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Brazilian Cinema Day: Get to know more about the Brazilian film industry

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

To celebrate the date, Her Campus brings a timeline of Brazilian cinema, showing how great and powerful it is. In this article you can check out the demystification of the concept that Brazilian cinema is no good and prevent the mongrel syndrome of people who say that Hollywood is much better than national cinema.

The beginning of it all

The first film made in the country was by the brothers Paschoal Affonso and Segreto, who filmed Guanabara Bay on June 19, 1898. That’s why this is the commemorative date. 

In the beginning, most productions were documentaries, such as the first short film Os Estranguladores (1908), by Francisco Marzullo and Antônio Leal, and the first feature Crime dos Banhados (1914), directed by Francisco Santos.

The creation of studios

The first major Brazilian studio was created in the 1930s and was called Cinédia. It created major films such as Limite (1931), by Mário Peixoto. With a strong influence from Hollywood at the time, the studio invested in musical productions and big stars such as Carmen Miranda, who was a huge draw for audiences. 

Back in the 1940s, the Vera Cruz studio made a name for itself by bringing more modernity to the industry of the time, including the first Brazilian film to win an award at the Cannes International Film Festival, Lima Barreto’s O Cangaceiro (1953). 

It’s worth mentioning other studios such as the Atlântida Cinematográfica company (1941), which was responsible for producing 62 films. 

Almost a decade later, in 1950, there was the country’s first television station, Tupi, which led to actors moving from movies to TV. 

New Cinema

Filmmakers –  who were tired of the Brazilian film industry using the Hollywood formula – began to make films with a national language. The stories had popular themes and showed the reality of the country, often in a political and social way, leaving the studios to film on the street.

Nelson Pereira dos Santos, with the films Rio, 40 Graus (1955) and vidas secas (1963), was one of the great Brazilian filmmakers who made a name for himself in the new cinema. Glauber Rocha, marked the movement with productions such as Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol (1964) and Terra em Transe (1967). The film Macunaíma (1969), by Joaquim Pedro de Andrade, is also noteworthy.


In the 1970s, there were historic changes in the distribution of Brazilian films. Embrafilme (Brazilian Film Company) was created to finance productions that reflected the conditions of the military regime.  

The film industry was under the control and order of the state, and those films that were approved by the censors went through a whole process of commercial distribution and promotion abroad. 

Brazilian cinema at this time set box office records: Bruno Barreto’s Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands (1976) sold 10 million copies, and is still one of the most successful films in Brazilian cinema today. 

In 1990, Embrafilmes ceased its activities due to the mandate of Fernando Collor – president at the time – who also abolished the Ministry of Culture, Concine and the Brazilian Cinema Foundation. Hindering the production of other national films.

The recovery 

After a long period of scarcity, with the impeachment of Fernando Collor, the new government of Itamar Franco created the Audiovisual Law, with the initiative of making more productions again. 

The films that marked the return of Brazilian cinema were Carla Camurat’s Carlota Joaquina, Princesa do Brasil (1994), the first to be made under the Audiovisual Law. In four years, Brazil had three Oscar nominations for best foreign film, for the films O Quatrilho (1995), by Fábio Barreto, O Que é Isso, Companheiro? (1997), by Bruno Barreto, and Central do Brasil (1998), by Walter Salles. 

City of God (2002), by Fernando Meirelles – one of the greatest phenomena in Brazilian cinema -was the last film to mark the end of the Recovery era. The picture was nominated for 4 Oscars and won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, as well as bringing a large  audience to contemporary Brazilian cinema. 

Current Days

At the beginning of the 2000s, Brazilian cinema began to gain great international repercussions, with films such as Hector Babenco’s Carandiru (2003) and José Padilha’s Tropa de Elite (2007).

In the 2010s, the popularization of Brazilian comedies made audiences go to the cinema, with films having more than a million viewers. The most successful workswere Roberto Santucci De Pernas pro Ar (2010) and  Susana Garcia andAndré Pellenz, César Rodrigues Minha Mãe é uma Peça (2013).

Independent national films are becoming more prominent at international film festivals, and important filmmakers include Kleber Mendonça Filho (Aquarius, Bacurau), Anna Muylaert (Que Horas Ela Volta?) and Petra Costa (Elena, Democracia Em Vertigem).


o cinema brasileiro transmite cultura e arte, tenham esperança nele. #fyp #cinemabrasileiro #cultura #paravoce

♬ som original – nabi

Brazilian cinema has a history of respect, going through various stages until it became what it is today. Unfortunately, there are still many people who don’t watch a Brazilian movie out of pure prejudice, the truth is that they are missing out on the best kind of movie in which we are represented. In national films we have a reflection of Brazil, the people and the country itself.

Whenever you have the chance to see a Brazilian movie, see it! It always surprises you in the best possible way and at the end of the movie you feel a kind of pride in the production. 


The article above was edited by Malu Alcântara.

Liked this type of content? Check Her Campus Cásper Líbero home page for more! 

Giovana Fernandes

Casper Libero '27

Aluna de jornalismo da Cásper Líbero, que adora o mundo do entretenimento.